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Chicago predatory funeral homes target murder victims, cash in on the taxpayer-funded expenditure

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CHICAGO – Predatory funeral homes have been accused of cashing in on the Chicago ruthless crime through the use of a taxpayer-funded scheme that pays $7,500 in funeral costs for homicide survivors.

The lawyers have been accused of some of the funeral directors of inflating the prices or to charge families for services they never received.

“Every funeral home in the state knows that victims get $7,500 for a funeral and it is their goal to get the full amount, because it is easy money,” Susan Johnson, director of Chicago Survivors, told Fox News.

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Johnson, whose organization helps people who have lost loved ones to murder, claims single zero on the people who receive money from the state of Illinois is a Victim compensation fund.

The state – together with the federal government provides eligible victims of violent crime with up to $27,000 in financial assistance for out-of-pocket costs. The families of murder victims get € 7,500 for funeral costs.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral for an adult is between $7,000 and $8,300. The Federal Trade Commission puts the figure slightly higher, around $10,000.

In the past few months, Chicago gained national notoriety for the rising crime. Even with an additional 600 officers on the streets, 58 people were shot last weekend, seven deadly

(2018 Getty Images)

The $7,500 from the Victim Compensation fund is supposed to go in the direction of staff salary, use of facilities, transportation, crate, as well as other memorialization costs. The price jumps as flowers, clothing or an obituary is added.

Johnson, a former pastor, says she’s seen families who have been overbilled and underserved.

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In one case, she sets a funeral home held the body hostage, because the family could not come up with extra money after he quoted one price but charged a higher amount.

“It happens all the time,” she said.

She added that, although there are laws to protect consumers and prevent funeral homes from cold calling families or soliciting outside the medical examiner’s office, few perpetrators ever face consequences.

The bad behaviour is allowed in part because the cash-strapped cities, such as Chicago, lack the resources to crack down on fraudsters, greedy operators the green light to target grieving families.

The $7,500 from the Victim Compensation fund is supposed to go in the direction of staff salary, use of facilities, transportation, crate, as well as other memorialization costs (on the photo, a memorial for a murder victim in June)

(2018 Getty Images)

In the past few months, the Windy City has gained national notoriety for the rising crime. Even with an additional 600 officers on the streets, 58 people were shot last weekend, seven deadly.

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Rooting from funeral fraud, by comparison, is not something on the radar of the government.

“It is not a high priority,” Johnson said, adding that she told privately, there are simply not enough resources to the national, regional or local level to go after those trying to bilk the system.

“That is the excuse of every government, is it not?” Joshua Solcum, executive director of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, told Fox News.

Solcum, who describes his non-profit organization like “Consumer Reports magazine of funerals,” also says he has heard the horror stories of funeral homes take advantage of people.

“(The families) have an ethical right to be angry,” he said. “It is one of the worst ways to offend people.”

Some funeral homes have driven the prices so high that the families could not afford funeral costs.

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The Illinois attorney general’s office, as well as multiple national and local leaders, refused to comment on what – if-something – is to do to combat the problem.

The National Funeral Directors Association holds its members are required to adhere to the code of professional conduct “that is based on an obligation to families on a fair and equitable manner.”

The organization told Fox News that all the funeral homes in the United States must comply with the FTC’s funeral rule, which “requires transparency when discussing prices with the family.”

And all consumers can file complaints with the FTC, the agency has the tendency to act only after seeing the patterns of abuse, multiple sources told Fox News.

Another reason that some funeral homes are not held to account is because victims’ families are often too emotionally exhausted to report abuses.

“They have had it,” Johnson said. “They’ve gotten through the worst in their life and they don’t want to get into a long battle with a funeral home.”

Johnson says grieving relatives are often asked to sign additional documents at the view or just before the funeral begins. Most of the time that they don’t know what they are signing, or are still in so much shock, that they do not understand what happens.

Items that they don’t need or services that were never rendered to get stuck on the invoice.

“It’s disgusting,” she said.

In a particularly shocking case, a 45-year-old woman’s body was partially burned. The funeral home failed to pick up her remains in the time for the service. Instead, they put an empty casket in the front of the church and not tell the family. When the victim, 19-year-old son asked about his mother’s body, the undertaker finally delivered a second chest. When it was opened, mourners were shocked that the undertaker failed to dress of the body, as they claimed that they had. The last image of the son of his murdered mother was a charred and deformed mess.

In another incident, a Chicago funeral director decided to cancel, view and service four hours before it started. He based his decision on the erroneous information that the victim was part of a gang. Johnson, who is assisting the family, says she repeatedly told the funeral director this was not the case, going so far as to get the commander to call the police and vouch for the victim.

When Johnson continued to push, it shall inform the funeral director hissed, “What are you, an effing lawyer?'”

“And he made no use of the word effing,” she added.

Solcum is of the opinion that, even if some people feel betrayed by the system, they must still voice their complaints.

“I would say directly to another family… please, please speak.”

 

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